Four Years On

Friday, 15 January

If you saw the above photo while still deranged with grief over the recent death of your last beloved lost dog, would you have been able to resist saving her from the pound?

If you are normally a responsible, rational adult, the answer to the above question is most likely, Yes, you could have resisted, especially once you had an inkling of the particulars, i.e., that she was terrified of everything and everyone and that, as a young hunting dog, she needed professional levels of exercise.

On January 6th 2017, this traumatised dog was found roaming the streets near the northern city of Arras and taken to the shelter in Tilloy-les-Moufflaines. The very next day, I saw her on the SPA animal welfare website. Three days later, on the 10th, after having obsessively consulted the photo, made phone enquiries and convinced myself of a series of 'signs', I was on my way to pick up the two-year old hound.

Because she had no ID, Tasha's arrival date was designated as her birthday. If since then the day has often passed unnoticed in our household, it's unlikely to do so again. From now on the 6th of January will be etched into our collective memory as the day a Trumped-up murderous mob assaulted American democracy.  

Four years begins to define an era, and it seems a good moment to take stock of Tasha's tenure with us.

As any regular reader of this blog knows, her arrival shook our lives considerably. Fear of the outside world has made her difficult and demanding at every turn; in her early days she was dubbed by a fellow dog walker la Terreur des Tuileries. Over the years, I have recorded our attempts to calm and train her, often with the aid of professionals. From Koffi in Paris...

...and Anna in Berlin...

Happily, the efforts have paid off. Though she may still act as if having her harness put on (something that happens three to four times daily) is the equivalent of being locked in a cage, she does now bark less at other dogs and almost never at joggers. Her self-restraint is generally much improved, and she has learned to relax, even if in sleep she's still appears to be in hot pursuit.  

At times, her physical prowess can make you wonder if Tasha isn't a super-heroine.  

The dog also deserves credit for remaining faithful during four tumultuous years in the life of her owners. She adapted to our Paris world...

I've got the baguette; now where's my beret? 

...and followed us back and forth to Berlin...

Mein Gott (Soviet War Memorial)

...then threw herself into our post-Berlin life in the Perche...

Catch me if you can

As time has gone on, a spirited and wilful personality has poked its way through the angst. She may be a mongrel of unknown origins (beyond a visibly strong streak of German short-haired pointer), but she acts like - and expects to be treated as - a princess. She certainly necessitates a royal budget.

Her requirements for comfortable bedding know no bounds...

If you won't let me sleep on your bed, I guess this will do

...and her demands for attention can be somewhat despotic...

Love me, now.

...but she is clever, sporty and fun, loving and lovable.

The bottom line is that while still a challenge, Tasha - unlike too many humans - has learned to tame her darker angels, and four years on, we feel blessed that this lost dog from Arras is part of our life.

Older and wiser